2020 Election Update: O’Rourke’s Education Plan; NAACP Forum

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O’Rourke Releases $500B Plan to Close Racial, Income-Based Funding Gaps in Education

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a $500 billion plan Wednesday he said would close racial and income-based funding gaps in the U.S. education system.

The former Texas representative said in a statement the proposal would also ban corporal punishment in schools, invest in “restorative justice” and educate teachers to address bias.

“The effects of a system where students of color are disciplined at alarmingly higher rates than white students, where funding favors white school districts over nonwhite districts, or where white teachers far outnumber black teachers live on well beyond students leaving the classroom,” he said in the statement.

O’Rourke is among the 11 Democratic candidates who will speak Wednesday at NAACP’s Presidential Candidates Forum in Detroit, as they compete for the support of African Americans, who account for 20% of the party’s voters and are crucial to winning the presidential nomination.

Candidates Vie for Black Vote at NAACP Forum

The leading Democratic candidates will make their case to the NAACP National Convention on Wednesday, as they compete for a voting bloc that accounts for 20% of the party’s voters and is crucial to winning the presidential nomination.

The event in Detroit will feature 11 of the two dozen contenders, including the race’s top tier: former Vice President Joe Biden, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. Biden, the front-runner, has recently lost some ground with black voters, though he retains a strong lead. The other candidates are likely to use the forum to try to further cut into that support.

Several candidates have recently released policy proposals on issues of particular concern to African Americans. On Tuesday, Biden unveiled a criminal justice proposal that reversed several key elements of a tough-on-crime bill that he helped pass in 1994 as a senator from Delaware. The measure has been criticized for contributing to the mass incarceration of minorities.

Biden’s backing among black voters dropped sharply after a heated exchange in the first candidate debate in Miami last month when Harris grabbed the spotlight by criticizing his past positions on racial issues, including his stance on busing and his comments about working with segregationist senators earlier in his career.

The NAACP forum could be a warm-up for a more direct confrontation for Biden at the second round of debates in Detroit next week, when he will be on stage with Harris and Senator Cory Booker, who are both black.

The NAACP event Wednesday will also include Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, John Delaney and Bill Weld.

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